Addresses the unspoken problem of mothering difficult adult children while balancing one’s own needs.
Difficult brings to life the conflicts that arise for the mothers who are confronted with the unexpected, burdensome, and even catastrophic dependencies of their adult children associated with mental illness, substance use, or chronic unemployment.Through real stories of mothers and their challenging adult children, this book offers readable, provocative, and, at times, shocking illustrations of the excruciating maternal dilemma: Which takes precedence—the needs of the mother or of the distressed adult child?
Judith Smith speaks empathically to parents, acknowledging and illuminating the embarrassment, shame, and helplessness that women can feel when their adult children’s problems puncture their own feelings of self-worth. While the stories and lessons shared in the book touch all mothers who wish their children had married better, lived closer, or called more, Difficult speaks primarily to those mothers with children over thirty who have problems that interfere with their ability to be self-sufficient, despite their seemingly “normal” early childhood and adolescence.
Difficult addresses this often-ignored topic which many families often keep secret. It not only creates a necessary public dialogue about a growing social problem, it also includes resources for getting help: finding social support, staying safe, engaging in self-care, and helping the adult child.
Judith Smith is associate professor at Fordham University, with years of experience as a clinical social worker/psychotherapist and researcher. Her research focuses on aging, mothering, child development, and elder abuse. She lives in New York City with her family.
Part One Intro– Through A Mother’s Eyes
Chapter 1: What is a Difficult Adult Child?
Chapter 2: Once a Mother, Always a Mother?
Chapter 3: Give Me Shelter
Chapter 4: Shame and Blame
Chapter 5: Torn in Two
Chapter 6: Mental Illness in the Family
Chapter 7: Who Cares for the Mentally Ill?
Chapter 8: Substance Abuse in the Family
Chapter 9: Chromic Sorrow
Chapter 10: Violence in the Family
Chapter 11: Pain of the Past
Part Two Intro– Small Steps
Chapter 12: Stages of Change
Chapter 13: Seeing and Not Seeing
Chapter 14: Self-Assessment
Part Three Intro– Helping yourself
Chapter 15: Social Support
Chapter 16: Self-care
Chapter 17: Staying Safe
Chapter 18: Helping Your Adult Child Get Help
Chapter 19: What comes next?
Appendix A: Resources for Mothers and Adult Children
Appendix B: Research Methodology
Appendix C: The Mothers
Difficult: Mothering through conflict and commitment
Table of Contents
About the Author
This fine book will be profoundly helpful to all the women who needed it yesterday. At last, we have a book on the subject of difficult children that is profoundly sympathetic with and empathic toward mothers. It is excellent cultural therapy.
This is a must-read book for every single family who has an adult child living with an untreated and under-treated serious brain illness and/or substance use disorder in our country. Too many moms (and dads) endure too much abuse and fear while attempting to do what the health care system won’t: actually treat and house their adult children who live with these horrible illnesses, especially those who have Anosognosia and can’t participate in treatment because their brain illnesses themselves cause them to be unaware of their need for treatment.